Microsoft will release a third service pack for SQL Server 2005, just before the next version of the server software comes out.

Service Pack 3 is expected to come out after the release to manufacturing of SQL Server 2008, which is scheduled to happen in the third quarter this year.

Microsoft didn't reveal much about what the service pack would include, except to say in a Tuesday blog post that it will contain all cumulative updates to the software plus some additional fixes to bugs that customers have reported on MS Connect, a Microsoft website for customer feedback.

The development of a third service pack does not change the Incremental Servicing Model that Microsoft introduced last year. The model, unveiled last July, introduced a regular update process to SQL Server 2005. Since then, every two months Microsoft issues a cumulative update for SQL Server 2005 that includes all critical fixes that had been released during that time as well as updates for less urgent issues.

Customers like the predictability of the model, so Microsoft will continue using it, said Francois Ajenstat, director of SQL Server marketing for Microsoft, in a separate blog post. However, users also say that there's a need for a third service pack, so Microsoft plans to release one, he said. The company is announcing its plans now so that customers can plan for deployment, he said.